Was 1997 the Greatest Year for Science Fiction in Film?

I never paid attention to this, but may be damn true. And if we consider “Flubber” a science fiction movie, that is so damn true!

Plot and Theme

Most years have a few high-quality genre pieces to offer, some years see the release of a genre-defining film and a solid collection of supporting movies, and every now and then there are collisions where two absolute classics are released side-by-side (see:  1968, 1977, and 1982).  But, there’s nothing quite like what happened 20 years ago.  Eleven science fiction films of note were released in 1997, spanning all subgenres.  This piece will discuss each of these films, heralding 1997 as a seminal year for cinematic science fiction.

Intellectual Dramas 

In the first section, we’ll look at three slow-burn, intellectual science fiction films:  Contact, Gattaca, and Abre los Ojos (Open Your Eyes).  These films respect the intelligence of the audience while discussing some of the most classic science fiction concepts.

Contact

contact Jodie Foster, listenin’ for aliens.

Based on the 1985 Carl Sagan novel of the same name and…

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Robots get bullied!

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Found via Sam’s article on “Ex Machina” and “Westworld”.

Stephen Hawking said: “The short-term impact of A.I. depends on who controls it; the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”

Atlas Robot by Boston dynamics is learning how not to fall when being bullied:

This is how desperate it looked several years ago, when the robot wasn’t able to pick itself back up:

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Alphabet Inc. (read “Google”) sold Boston Dynamics several months ago though, after owning it for 4 years.

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BFI London Film Festival 2017

While I am incredibly happy to see a Russian movie (of the same name as My Bloody Valentine’s epic work!) to win The Best Film Award at BFI London Film Festival 2017, Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ (“The Lobster“) “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” really make me wanna strain at the leash.

Both have awesome posters, by the way.

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Yesterday was the last day of the BFI London Film Festival 2017, which ran between 4-15 October 2017, and I thought I would comment on the Best Film Award winner, on some other nominees, as well as on some of the films that took part in various special galas. The films of the Festival reflected today’s global challenges, while also emphasising various nations’ peculiar traditions and highlighting truly personal stories behind broader themes.

I. Official Competition – Best Film Award: 

Winner – “Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev)

Coming from Andrey Zvyagintsev, the man behind such critically-acclaimed films as “Leviathan” (2014) and “The Return” (2003), “Loveless” is another well-made film about a couple who lose their son during difficult time of divorce. “Loveless” has already made commotion (in a very positive sense) at the Cannes Film Festival, and all points to a…

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High-Rise / posters

4 bloody lovely posters for “High-Rise” that I must have missed when reviewing Ben Wheatley’s surreal film. The last one has some very curious details.

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High-Rise” a bloody mess of a dystopian movie based on a novel by J. G. Ballard, but it had its moments. And it also had Tom Hiddleston, Siena Miller, Jeremy Irons and absolutely beautiful although rather lifeless visuals.

 

Mars Explorers Wanted

Saw a graffiti when coming back home…

…and it reminded me of NASA posters I saw recently. They were originally developed for an exhibition at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Complex in 2009:

NASA is currently planning to send humans to low-Mars orbit in the early 2030s (remember the probe that crashed there 1 year ago?). Here you can read more about journey to Mars overview.

And this gorgeous shot is not from the next “Alien” installment – it was taken on the Mars surface during the spring in the Northern hemisphere (May 21, 2017) by the HiRISE camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Over the winter, snow and ice have inexorably covered the dunes. Unlike on Earth, this snow and ice is carbon dioxide, better known to us as dry ice.

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Harvey Weinstein & Hollywood’s Complicity

This is brilliant and must be shared. I’ve been following this topic, and it smells really bad, especially when you read the comments of other people on various places on the web.

Kate Winslet publicly criticized Weinstein and just because of that many criticized her (!) for staying silent for so long, like she is just trying to get away with the fact that all these things were well known. How can one react to this? I don’t know. And Winslet is not the only one who reacted to it in this way and was criticized for. The same happened to Ben Affleck and many others.

There is absolutely zero doubt about Weinstein and how stuff like this must be treated. I, as a man, am happy that people discuss it publicly now.

From the other point of view, there is a lot of hypocrisy in all this topic which I don’t know what to think about. Take Cara Delevingne. She was already successful as a model. She is not an actress, at least, not in first place. She comes from a wealthy family and know lots of influential people. What did she had to lose? I specifically searched if she mentioned about Weinstein before all this stuff started. Zero. Nothing. Why was she silent? Maybe I didn’t search well? Maybe. I am not saying I am 100% right on this, but it smells bad. And now she is posting stuff on Instagram, gaining 200k likes per posts that she is “not afraid”. If Delevingne did speak out before, maybe it would have helped somebody. But she didn’t. It is my assumption, but it’s pretty sure many will try to jump now on this ship of accusations.

It is obvious who is guilty and I am not trying to say something controversial. But there’s more that just one person guilty, and this more is the system. And if – if! – I am right about people like Cara Delevingne – it’s also these people too who contributed to this rotten system. Because Jay got it perfectly right – there are hundreds of Weinsteins out there, and they would have never done what they did without other people’s complicity.

ASSHOLES WATCHING MOVIES

So. This is a difficult subject to broach because of its sheer scope. Unless you’ve been hibernating under the proverbial rock, you know now that Harvey Weinstein has been accused of rape, sexual misconduct, and various kinds of inappropriate behaviour that are mind-boggling in their number. Harvey Weinstein is (was?) a producer and film studio executive who co-founded Miramax, which produced several popular indies, including Pulp Fiction, Clerks, and The Crying Game, and 24th-annual-producers-guild-pga-awards-backstage-roamiwon an Oscar for producing Shakespeare in Love. He was recently ousted from his own company because of these accusations, though it should be said that it was likely a form or self-protection for the company rather than any sense of moral obligation. Indeed, many people at said company will have had knowledge of, and helped cover up, the very reprehensible behaviour that got him ousted in the first place.

We know why women stay silent –…

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scifiinterfaces.com / sci-fi designs

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I’ve been a long-time follower of this amazing blog, “Sci-Fi Interfaces“. Its author, Chris, is a very humble guy…

“Scifiinterfaces analyzes the interfaces seen in movies and television show for fun and erudition. Its main author and curator and all around guy is me, Chris Noessel.”

…but in fact he does a very detailed and lentghy analysis of all type of sci-fi interfaces, from “TRON” and “Oblivion” (about 30 interfaces analyzed) to “Dr. Strange” and “Johny Mnemonic“. Together with Nathan Shedroff, Chris published a 348-page book “Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction”.

Here is one of my favourite posts by Chris about “Johny Mnemonic” (by the way, Keanu Reeves is doing “Replicas”, his new sci-fi movie): Cyberspace: Bulletin Board.

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So, “Replicas”… Here’s a shot from it with Keanu wearing a helmet that makes me think of the “Johny Mnemonic”:

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I must sadly admit I paused the trailer at the same moment ss it was written “from the producers of ‘Passengers‘ and ‘Transformers‘.” That is a bad sign. Really bad. How someone even dares to use it to attract audience? It’s not 2007 now. I cannot express how much I hated that movie even though it had some moments (actually I hated both, but at least Transformers never tried to pretend something it isn’t). The trailer of “Replicas” doesn’t look really good. For now, it looks exactly like a film influenced by the producers of “Passengers”, ha ha.

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And to end this post on a positive note, two ultracool GIFs from “Johny Mnemonic”, a movie with weird as never Dolph Lundgren and a cyborg dolphin.

 

 

A Trip to Mars (Himmelskibet) / posters

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This is not a Soviet film as you might have thought, but a Soviet poster for “A Trip to Mars” (“Himmelskibet“), a silent 1918 Danish film, one of the earliest productions in space travel sub-genre of science fiction. It’s interesting to note that Denmark didn’t make another science fiction film until the 60-s.

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This original poster was cool, but not as the Soviet one.

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Pay attention to the writings.

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I won’t review it since this oldie is mostly interesting for cultural reasons and cinephiles (I’ve already covered “Aelita“, a silent Soviet movie about, guess what, also a trip to Mars! It seems like people really preferred Mars to the Moon), but moviessilently.com did a terrific film analysis, here are some highlights:

  • “The spaceship is called the Excelsior but it looks more like a fat little airplane.”
  • “It seems that Mars was once warlike but then some guy showed up and said, “Hey, what if we make love and not war!”
  • “The performances are very… European, especially among the human characters. There was a tendency in European silent cinema to treat film acting as a series of poses, which leads to a choppy set of movements as the performers check items off the list. “Let’s see, I need to be excited then determined then indignant…”
  • “The first key problem with the film is that modern science fiction fans have seen this scenario before but always with a twist.”

Cinematic archives / Terminator / posters

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My cinematic archive is small, but what can be better than a photo of a Robert Patrick’s metal sculpture.

He won’t be present in the forthcoming “Terminator” sequel, produced by James Cameron and directed by Tim Miller (“Deadpool”), but Arnold and Linda Hamilton will. Details are unknown, but it seems that the new film will be the first in a new trilogy and will continue the events of “T2”.

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I still cannot believe that James Cameron is so busy with all these Avatar sequels, 4 of them are planned currently… couldn’t he do just 1 sequel and 3 films about something else? I was just thinking about how much I loved “Avatar” upon its release, but it rarely comed to my mind now (and I heard similar thoughts from other movie lovers too). I got a bad feeling that if the first sequel won’t be too successful commercially, the other will be simply cancelled. Here is a very good insight into why it didn’t have a long-lasting influence.

Two weird posters to compensate the sadness.

Silent Running / posters

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Some of you may rightfully wonder why the name of Mark Kemrode, the film critic, is floating on the poster. The answer is simple – he likes to float, too this is a cover of his book, “Silent Running“. He often said that the film is one of his all-time personal favourites, citing his preference for it over “sterile and emotionless” “2001: A Space Odyssey“.

Now I start to doubt even more in the sanity of top-notch movie critics as calling “Silent Running” the best sci-fi film is just insane – for a serious cinema critic, not fanboy like me. But that does not make the book cover any less beautiful. It was designed by Olly Moss and he did a bunch of awesome movie posters, including very original “Star Wars” posters (and it must be very difficult to make an original SW poster!). Amazing work.

…and just for the record, the other most recent time I ranted about insane movie critics was when ebert.com rated “Alien: Covenant” 4/4.

Here is another poster oldschool poster.

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And a wonderful photo from the shooting.

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I reviewed the film before, so check here my GIFs about the film and the amazing special effects of the flight through the Saturn rings here. That was something incredible.

Plus, here’s some interesting info about “Silent Running” that I didn’t cover in my review. “After the success of Easy Rider (1969), directed by Dennis Hopper, Universal Studios hit upon the idea to let young filmmakers make “semi-independent” films for low budgets in hopes of generating similar profits. The idea was to make five of these movies each for $1 million dollars or less, not interfere in the filmmaking process, and give the directors final cut, a level of control seldom allotted to even the most successful directors. The movies produced were The Hired Hand (1971) directed by Peter Fonda, The Last Movie (1971) by Dennis Hopper, Taking Off (1971) by Milos Forman, American Graffiti (1973) by a young and impressionable George Lucas, and lastly Silent Running. Released in 1972 (5 years prior to the release of the first Star Wars film), Silent Running is an environmentally themed American sci-fi film written, produced, and directed by the legendary filmmaker and visual effects pioneer, Douglas Trumbull.” Thanks to Supercult Show blog that did a very comprehensive write-up about the film.

Now… Suntory time, as Bill-motherfucking-ghostbuster-Murray once said.

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